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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Columnist: Akrobs-Nyamadi, Hope Kwame

Whatever Happened to NPP's 'Property-Owning Democracy' slogan?

Introduction

In this article, I would attempt to compare and contrast the record of the two major political traditions in Ghana (NDC and NPP) with respect to the promise and subsequent provision of low income accommodation for the electorate, the good people of Ghana.

Inasmuch as I would wish this article would be a short one, the voices in my head that continuously use me as a conduit, their servant, to convey these messages to the people of Ghana would not accept it any other way for time is of the essence, hence the truth must be told to the masses. These voices thus leaves yours truly, Fela O Fela, poised with the utmost vigor and wisdom, and with such formidable forces at work, what is a writer's block?

The Record of the P/NDC

Around 1979 throughout the early 1980's, there was a popular slogan, “one-man, one-toilet,” originated by the indefatigable JJ Rawlings to register his protest of the overt class structure and the obscene opulence in which the small group of ruling elites indulged themselves, with some owning more than five houses (each with more toilets than there were bedrooms) while the greater majority of the nation lived in abject poverty and deplorable conditions whereby the latter had no other choice but to join the long lines at the public latrines. This slogan resonated too well with the general public, but it later took a life of its own as it is now used to judge its originator.

Today, in the multi-party pseudo-democratic Ghana, it is quite interesting how the mere mention of Rawlings' slogan “one-man one-toilet” throws the elephant off-balance into a sudden frenzy and burst of laughter, sending the elephant rolling on its back, kicking its legs into the air. Thereafter, the elephant (NPP sympathizers) would usually blasphemously chastises the good name of JJ Rawlings, citing a supposed sharp contrast of a man who stood for 'one-man, one-toilet' for twenty-years only to end up living comfortably in a mansion with more than five toilets, to the extent that even his dog, if he had one, would have its own toilet.

But while the elephant basks itself in this misplaced ridicule of a great man, great leader of a rare breed, a reformer, and a nation-builder, it failed to acknowledge the vast inroads made of this grand quest of 'one man, one toilet' slogan. By that I mean the sprawling edification of low income housing initiative of the PNDC and NDC respective governments.

It is worth emphasizing that the Adenta Housing, Sakumono Estates, Dansoman Estates, the various SSNIT Flats, and other low income housing communities that extend to different parts of the country, are all but a few indications of Rawlings' and PROF. ATTA MILLS' legacies in pursuit and realization of affordable housing, and to a larger extent, of a 'Better Ghana'.

Another grand initiative is that of the partnership of PNDC government and Scancem of Norway to establish a cement factory in Ghana ( a handful of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa) in order to defray cement importation at the same time providing jobs and a viable sector.

As though that was not enough, the NDC government in 1998, with Professor John Atta Mills as the Vice President and Chairman of the Economic Development Committee [sic], in partnership with the IMF, established, yet again, a second cement factory, the Diamond Cement at Aflao, in order to ensure a more competitive pricing to the (VAT-and-petro-tax, and now, talk-tax) Ghanaian taxpayer cum consumer.

It would be remembered that during the recent Scancem scandal, an investigation by the NPP's chief apologist and propagandist, pseudo-CPP member, Malik Yakubu Osama Kweku Baaku, Jnr. did not only vindicate JJ Rawlings of bribe allegations, but rather revealed that in the year 2000, Scancem, in an attempt to maintain its monopoly in Ghana, paid NPP's John Agyekum Kuffour a whopping $5 million as secret campaign contributions with the hope that the Presidential candidate, John Kuffour, would give Scancem an upper-hand in the sector.

That was when a bag of cement cost 25,000 cedis ( $4 @ 6400 cedi exchange rate), and NPPerns cried foul and called for human rights and economic freedom; however, after 8 years of a supposed good governance, with no relative change in salary and a dry economy, a bag of cement now commands a whopping 100,000 to 120,000 cedis ($10-$12 @ 9,800 cedi-exchange rate), yet NPP proclaims they are rather moving Ghanaians FORWARD: yeeko yenim.

The higher the prices, the better – only applies to the seller: never the poor consumer!!!

Not to digress, as an icing on the cake (the national cake, that is), and the distribution thereof, the NDC government has been known/criticized for being notorious at subsidizing and low-taxing/levying of clinker (the adhesive ingredient in cement) thus keeping the cost of cement production low, hence the subsequent cost to the consumer.

Last, but not least, I would be remiss if I make no mention of the unprecedented, non-partisan liberalization of the building construction sector; whereby the sole bearer of the Grand Order of the Star and Eagle of the Republic of Ghana, Johnny 'Kofi Bling Bling Fiddy-Cent Mobutu-Bokassa' Agyekum Kufour, even held a cement block factory while the Hon. Osafo Marfo aka Mr. Odeeadeyeee aka The Barbarshop Loan Shark, was made the Managing Director (CEO) of the once profitable but now erstwhile Bank for Housing and Construction, and Aliu Mahama benefited from SCC's (state construction corporation) generous dispensation of building contracts in the northern part of the country.

It is therefore a no-brainer to conclude that any of these accomplishments would be indicative of a progressive and practical agenda towards the high demand of low income housing in Ghana; nonetheless, the grand pursuit of the “one man, one toilet” slogan.

NPP and the Property-Grabbing (ooops)....-Owning Democracy.

All throughout the greater part of Kuffour's tenure, until lately, much fanfare and premature jubilation and political gyration was made of property ownership (to all Ghanaians, we assumed) thus the phenomenon termed, Property-Owning Democracy.

In pursuit of this supposedly unprecedented “kejetia logic” of a democracy, the preservation of precious and premium lands, long upheld by all successive governments and regimes since the inception of the first republic, were quickly released and re-zoned and, kpata-kpata-kpata/sharp-sharp, pseudo-contracts and presidential “permisshuns” were handed out left, right, front, back, and center, up-above and down-under. Yeeko yenim o, yeeko yenim. 'Ain't no stopping us now, we're moving on'.

As part of the grand initiative (or may i say, scheme ala kukrudu ski-mask way) was the release and re-zoning of the Cantoments, Airport Residential Areas, Roman Ridges, Labone (where centuries-old and vintage bangalows were dismantled overnight, to make way for million dollar mansions: “MTV-cribs,” for the NEW SHERIFFS IN TOWN-- say it ain't so!). Military Lands along Airport Road, lands around East Legon and the Kwame Nkrumah Motorway vicinity, Adjiriganor, and a plethora of prime real estate de-confiscated/ cleared for the spanking new elite class: most of which were reserved by the one only Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for road expansion and park preservation, as well as other befitting national edifice that are to commence when yours truly, Fela Boom Boom, becomes president. [But who am I to interfere with the Kejetia Resolution 666: manifest destiny --which stipulates-- he who dares cross the path of the Oseikroma Lords-of-the-Flies does so at his own peril].

More so to the dismay of the general public and the NDC opposition in parliament, a total of $31 million was (mis)-approved by the incontestable NPP majority in parliament under the pretext of the fly-by-night Ghana@50 celebrations. In the midst of that euphoria, such lands, coupled with big big loans were granted, and to some extent $500,000 for mansions to be built for the VIPs invited for the two-day event. It would be remembered that Charles Wireko Brobbery, President Kuffour's cousin, as the CEO of the Ghana@50 Secretariat, promised to use part of the first installment of the $20 million dollars “to build public toilet facilities” much in the same fashion as rest-stops found, every 20 miles, in developed countries for the good people of Ghana; well, we are still waiting!!!

Yeeko yenim, ampa!!! We are moving forward, indeed!!! (To a destination unknown, but I guess we'll find out when we get there; that is, if anyone of us should live to tell about it).

The NPP government (Akuffo-Addo, included) was so engulfed in the euphoria of this peculiar democracy (more so, a demonstration of craze) that to the shock-and-awe of the good people of hipc Ghana, the minister of Water, Works and Housing, Hon. Hackman Owusu Agyeman, awarded a whopping $60 million for some 200,000 low-income housing project to a certain Global Interest, LLC. of Houston, Texas; a company that did not only turned out to be non-existent in the Houston chamber of commerce, but actually shared a vacant office space with a front kiosk Nigeria church. [Statesman: Affordable Housing Wahala (June 4,2007)]

As appalling as that may be, it has also been well documented in several Ghanaian newspapers that most of the sub-contractors and the chain of other sub-contractors abandoned the vast incomplete projects due to insufficient funds realized after paying those hefty 20% kick-backs and kick-fronts. On that note, may I ask: Is Ghana truly moving forward, or rather backwards???

For that, the elephant would chant, “Yeeko yenim o, yeeko yenim, ampa!!!.

On top of such ignorant chants and deceptive slogans, the elephant sympathizers would even display their new dance moves, aptly termed, the “kangaroo dance”, as they hippidy- “hop” their way out of power, if they only knew.

Inshah Allah, come December 7th, 2008, no matter how many minors (10 year-olds) Akuffo Addo and his Lord Commey would bus in from Togo and Cote D'Ivoire, to register as adults, the NDC, Ghana's mass political party, with the affirmative support of the good people of Ghana will do their own victory dance as they show the incompetent and stinkingly corrupt NPP government – WHO LET THE DOGS OUT????...WHOO WHOO WHOO WHOO!!!!

Conclusion

it is quite heartbreaking that the NPP is rather trying its hardest to shy away from their masterfully-cunning scheme of property-owning democracy, albeit quick to cite its ill-budgeted and scanty School Feeding Programme of which contracts are giving out on partisan basis, if at all; the Capitation Grant, whereby certain school principals are threatening to shutdown entire schools due to the lack of funds while government celebrates the supposed success of the programme on television and radio; and the ill-fated, inconsistent National Health Insurance Scheme, of which medical facilities are turning down patients because “their” government owes them more money than the $1.4 million she cares to spend on fancy gold chains and gold medals for a wasteful award dinner.

The question still remains, whether the blatant reluctance of the NPP government to celebrate its accomplishments in the affordable housing sector, a deliberate attempt not to remind the electorate of how they have mismanaged the affairs of the state, and the massive financial loss to the state that they have brought unto the poor taxpayers of this Highly Indebted Poor Country.

To compare, or not to compare – that is the question. We shall compare!!! -- that is our answer.

GOD SAVE GHANA

To the ruling NPP government and the Electoral Commission, all we, the people, ask for is a peaceful,violent-free, and fair election. Why should any citizen die or suffer brutalities in the mere attempt to express his or her civil liberty?

By Hope Kwame Akrobs-Nyamadi of NDC New York

Fela O Fela : The NPP BoneShaker/ The Fact-Monger/ The Lord of the Keta Sea / The Guardian of the Revolution

(all media groups are permitted to publish this article)

All responses and criticisms are also welcomed at felaofela@gmail.com, besides the usual battleground that Kuffour fears so much: Ghanaweb's article discussion forum. Join us, you'll love it..it's not a luxury.....(for laughing out loud).